Now Reading
Botswana joins international call to protect LGBTI human rights

Botswana joins international call to protect LGBTI human rights

Botswana has backed a call by the African Union’s highest human rights body to protect the human rights of LGBTI people – though it has not yet said it will repeal its laws criminalizing same-sex relationships.

The 55th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights adopted a resolution in May calling for member states to respect the rights of LGBTI people in the strongest statement to date from a continent level body in Africa.

The resolution has been praised by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, and the Government of Botswana has now added their voices in support of the resolution.

‘We join the High Commissioner in welcoming the call last month by the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, at its 55th Session, for States to take steps to protect persons from human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,’ the Government of Botswana said in a statement.

‘While [there] is understandable division of opinion over sexual orientation and gender identity, violence cannot be justified.’

Pillay had challenged countries to work in cooperation with her office but said that she was all too often met with ‘stonewalling and denial’ when it came to protecting the human rights of LGBTI people.

‘is this because we have criticized Governments?’ Pillay asked in her final report as commissioner to the UN’s Human Rights Council.

‘Surely that is the nature of human rights advocacy – to speak truth to power; to confront privilege and entrenched hierarchy with an unshakeable belief in human dignity, equality and freedom.

‘Is it because we address issues that some States prefer not to discuss?

‘Certain States may feel that lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender and intersex people – or women; or persons with albinism; or people of certain castes, religion, race – somehow have less right than others to live a life of dignity.’

Botswana retains colonial era laws banning ‘unnatural carnal knowledge’ but the law is very rarely enforced and LGBTI activists have been able to hold public protests for their rights.